Of ancient but uncertain origin, alchemy was the earliest scientific enquiry into man’s relationship with the cosmos. And as the alchemists heated and calcinated, crystallised and distilled, they witnessed for the first time many of the reactions and transformations which became fundamental in the development of modern chemistry, medicine and materials science. However, without the benefit of the language of modern science, the alchemists described the events they saw by drawing parallels with nature. For example, a Black Toad was their image for the seething black mass of substance digesting in the flask, while a White Eagle was white fumes which rose up into the neck of the flask from a substance being heated below.
In the same vein, Green Lion was the way alchemists described the green raw energy of nature: "the green fuse which drives the flower" as Dylan Thomas elegantly put it. Thus, Green Lion is the alchemists’ description of the chlorophyll in a plant’s leaves which they would extract for their work.
Indeed, the Green Lion was considered so potent that many would also attempt to create living processes in their flasks by looking for precipitates or crystallisations which merely resembled leaves or plant forms. This lead alchemists to mix hydrochloric acid (made from common salt which often crystallises in fern-shaped ‘fronds’) and nitric acid to create a particularly potent Green Lion – aqua regia – a green-tinged liquid that could dissolve even gold!
And this particular Green Lion lies at the heart of a remarkable true story from the 20th Century. When Germany invaded Denmark during the Second World War the Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy dissolved the gold Nobel Prize medals of his colleagues Max von Laue and James Franck into aqua regia and placed the solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. After the war, he returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acidic mixture.
What better symbol could a business committed to harnessing the raw energy of employees and delivering potent engagement solutions to customers choose, therefore, than the Green Lion?